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The Domestic Roots of International Contempt

PutinRussia offers asylum to Edward Snowden, who publicized the extent of the U.S. government’s domestic espionage, thereby presuming to teach America a lesson about civil liberties. Iran demands that the U.S. government secure justice for Trayvon Martin, (whose death a jury ruled to have resulted from self defense), thereby presuming to teach us about tolerance of minorities. The ludicrous character of these gratuitous demarches highlights the contempt for America from which they flow.

In international affairs, contempt is highly dangerous. The sense that a nation may be outraged without serious consequence has always been the sine qua non of war. Contempt is especially dangerous when it is based on reality. Russia’s and Iran’s contempt of America today is based on real divisions in the U.S. body politic, which compound the realities of foolish commitments and wasted military power. Tragically, these domestic divisions are ones that the U.S. government itself is fostering. Foreign governments can be expected to exploit self-inflicted wounds.

The U.S. government did not have to spend billions to record metadata on every American’s phone calls and to access the rest of our electronic communications. It chose to do this because it had decided to deal with the threat of terrorism primarily by policing Americans rather than by forcing the Muslim world’s despots (that world is run exclusively by despots) to suppress anti-American incitement and activities rather than fostering them.

Moreover, the U.S. government crafted its “Homeland Security” on the basis of the counterfactual assumption that every American is as likely as any other American to be or not to be a terrorist – that to decide that any set of persons deserves any more scrutiny than any other, i.e. to “profile,” is impermissible. Hence, because “Homeland Security” is willfully agnostic not to say congenitally dumb, it must spy on everybody. The NSA’s universal elimination of the privacy of Americans’ communications is neither more nor less than the electronic version of the universal virtual undressing and palpating of passengers at airports.

It should be no surprise that, according to the polls, a growing majority of the American people now view the U.S. government’s antiterrorism as a threat to liberty greater than that of terrorism itself. This spreading sense of illegitimacy should be a cause of deep reflection among the ruling class.

By the same token the U.S. government, President Barack Obama foremost, did not have to comment on an ordinary homicide in Florida. Mr. A had shot Mr. B after B had broken A’s nose and inflicted lacerations on A’s head. The police had made no arrest. Yes, one Al Sharpton who had made himself a household word by fabricating the Tawana Brawley racial hoax in 1987, along with the Chicago racial extortionist Jesse Jackson, polluted the case with their race-baiting. Alas, they and their following being important constituents of the ruling Democratic Party, Democratic politicians from President Obama on down to the Party’s roots in the ruling class pressed publicly and privately to convict Mr. A and to endow Mr. B with victimhood. Their efforts were doomed to failure in a court of law.

Nevertheless, given the interested parties’ resources, they were assured of success in their intended political purpose, namely strengthening the ruling class’ cohesion. At the outset, President Obama declared that Mr. B could have been his son. After A’s acquittal Obama piled on that B could have been himself 35 years ago and recited a list of racial grievances. B’s racial partisans, duly inflamed, were likely to vote Democratic by another percentage point or two n the forthcoming electoral cycles. Just as important, countless members of the ruling class felt better about themselves for having stood on the side of someone who they themselves had presumed a victim of racial injustice. Accusing fellow Americans of racism is a key element of the ruling class’ self image.

The contrast between the legal failure and the political success of the ruling class’ intervention in that Florida homicide further divided America along racial lines and invited enemies of America to exploit the division.

Perhaps, however, the very ludicrousness of being lectured on civil liberties by Russia, one of history’s paragons of despotism, and on tolerance by the Islamic Republic of Iran for which oppression of any and all diversity is the very definition of justice, may cause our ruling class to reflect on its errors and on the truths of national existence.

1. However convenient it may be not to constrain the Muslim regimes that foster terrorism as well as to focus on their domestic sympathizers, treating all Americans as if any is as likely as not to be an enemy ends up making the government into the enemy of all Americans.

2. However politically convenient it may be to raise the consciousness of any group of Americans against any other group, the resulting national division will make all groups, together, playthings of foreign enemies.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on July 29, 2013 at 12:28:01 pm

"This spreading sense of illegitimacy should be a cause of deep reflection among the ruling class."

Perhaps you haven't noticed. This ruling class is not inclined to reflection, deep or otherwise.

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Image of willis
willis
on July 29, 2013 at 12:46:16 pm

The ruling class simply doesn't care what the peasants think. In their wealthy bubble they have only contempt for the citizen. Some of the contempt is well earned. As a citizenry we have not done well lately.

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Image of JB
JB
on July 29, 2013 at 12:54:28 pm

And causing divisions in the country which they can exploit seems to be what they are all about these days.

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Image of SongDog
SongDog
on July 29, 2013 at 13:02:44 pm

Sowing internal division and weakening us abroad? With Obama, that's not a bug, it's a feature. All is going according to plan. Just ask Cloward and Piven.

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kaffirgal
on July 29, 2013 at 13:05:37 pm

The domestic roots of international contempt are in academia. Academia teaches our own children to despise America, and naturally teaches the same to foreign children who study here. Academia has created a vast literature of hate-America and blame-America-first books, and foreigners are more familiar with this type of "history" (e.g., Zinn and Chomsky) than with any other. Academia is the breeding ground for the media figures and public intellectuals who despise America, from which foreign media figures and public intellectuals take their cue.

If we treat ourselves with contempt - as an unjust, aggressive, racist society - we can hardly expect foreigners to do otherwise.

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JP
on July 29, 2013 at 13:20:34 pm

It takes an 'intellectual' to be so ignorant. Clearly, our ruling class is tiring of how obtuse their subjects are.

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Image of PD Quig
PD Quig
on July 29, 2013 at 13:28:24 pm

If American academia and their ideological lavae are in the habit of cutting themselves out of existential boredom, don't be surprised if you find America's enemies rubbing dirt in the blades.

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Image of Kent
Kent
on July 29, 2013 at 13:39:47 pm

Good analysis. Hope a few of the more tepid members of the ruling class read this and share it with their friends who share it with their friends, etc., etc. Cooling the white hot fear of offending muslims whose core beliefs demand our death or enslavement while ceasing to fan the flames of racial division might lead to more sober reflection and saner policies. Thank you.

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Image of Bill
Bill
on July 29, 2013 at 13:51:13 pm

It is a shame that such clarion-calls of warning are so rarely heard in our public discourse today. For this I blame not just the entire Democratic Party, but the elites of the Republicans too, who have fallen under the spell of the Democrat propaganda blaring forth from the media.

Yes, it may engender a war, if it does not first engender a revolution. As far as I am concerned a "Cold Civil War" is already underway.

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Image of Ray Van Dune
Ray Van Dune
on July 29, 2013 at 14:24:40 pm

Division is the meat and drink of the Democrats. They could never have risen to power without coalition politics -- and coalitions can only exist where divisions are rife.

Unfortunately, the Republicans are both spineless and clueless: the first, because they are so easily silenced by cries of "Racist!" and similar vilifications; the second, because they clearly have no idea how to escape the informational / perceptual ghetto to which Democrats' and Main Stream Media abuses have confined them.

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Image of Francis W. Porretto
Francis W. Porretto
on July 29, 2013 at 15:15:46 pm

"A democracy becomes hopelessly weak, and the general good suffers accordingly, if its higher officials, bred up to despise it, and drawn from those very classes the dominance of which it is pledged to destroy, serve it only half-heartedly." (Marc Bloch, French historian)

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Peter Gee
on July 29, 2013 at 15:35:12 pm

This is the type of cogent comment that should be memorized.

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BarKahn
on July 29, 2013 at 15:52:14 pm

populations are as eagerly rushing toward socialism as bum toward a bottle. And the politicians, being always "self-sacrificing" servants of the people, enthusiastically run in red shirts before the "locomotive of history". Leading the way, of course.

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grrr
on July 29, 2013 at 15:57:17 pm

[...] angelo m. codevilla • the domestic roots of international contempt [...]

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Image of the domestic roots of international contempt | the link brief
the domestic roots of international contempt | the link brief
on July 29, 2013 at 16:58:20 pm

The only earthly thing we have to fear is...the whole government. This is by design, and even the revelations about IRS, NSA, et al. further the plan to make us too fearful to speak up.

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RAM
on July 29, 2013 at 18:09:39 pm

It is the "ruling class" that is illegitimate

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derfel cadarn
on July 29, 2013 at 18:12:47 pm

The most telling of the above comments are those that indict the Republicans for their incapacity to grasp the political opportunity posed by Obams's mind-blowing silliness and inadequacy, to build a successful opposition strategy.

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Voltimand
on July 29, 2013 at 20:15:39 pm

[...] The Domestic Roots of International Contempt | Online Library of Law and Liberty [...]

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Image of Surely You Jest, Mr. Codevilla | Daily Pundit
Surely You Jest, Mr. Codevilla | Daily Pundit
on July 29, 2013 at 20:42:41 pm

Prof. Codevilla,

It may be interesting for you to note the reaction of 'junior' members of the ruling class, the pro-NSA professioriate at the Naval War College, when confronted with sworn testimony that the NSA has been caught either intimidating or clumsily spying on an anti-Obama talk radio host and activist. Quite simply they call you insane, schizophrenic, etc while refusing to discuss the evidence:

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/55649
background and affidavit of licensed Pennsylvania private investigator Douglas Hagmann regarding NSA spying on a domestic phone call between himself and a prominent Fox News reporter during which they discussed Benghazi and the DHS

It would appear the Alinsky tactics of ridicule are not confined to the so-called 'Left', but are used by any panicked member of the ruling class especially the so-called 'neocons' of the GOP and Military Intelligence Complex when the criminality/politicization of their colleagues is exposed.

Link here:

http://westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/on-buying-that-onion-pi/#comments

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Image of Mr. X
Mr. X
on July 29, 2013 at 20:43:53 pm

Thanks again for having the courage -- personal and professional -- to remind the American people about Barack Hussein Obama's CIA diaper baby past.

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Image of Mr. X
Mr. X
on July 29, 2013 at 21:55:56 pm

Cannibalism is the meat and drink of Democrats. They will have risen to power only to eat their own.

Republicans may be clueless or, at least, in tacit collusion, but it's not a bipolar world. There are many who don't trust, identify with, or wish to belong to either gang, even or especially for corrupt material pay-off.

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Image of of Assisi
of Assisi
on July 30, 2013 at 11:12:15 am

The destruction of America is not a bug, it's a feature.

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Image of James Solbakken
James Solbakken
on July 31, 2013 at 20:39:00 pm

[...] Angelo M. Codevilla says that the combination of radically intrusive domestic spying and international fecklessness is producing a perilous situation. We tend to agree. [...]

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Image of Dinocrat » Blog Archive » Strange bedfellows
Dinocrat » Blog Archive » Strange bedfellows
on August 03, 2013 at 10:16:37 am

The epicenter for contempt is the tiny little man in the WH. I assume without to much fear that by now Putin and other world figures hold this small, nasty man in complete disregard. Inevitably the disregard for the president spills over to the nation to some degree. After all he was elected to a second term.

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johnt
on December 23, 2013 at 12:15:25 pm

By default. Which exposes part of the problem that Codevilla has been talking about for a while now.

Obama was not unbeatable in 2008, and he was very, very vulnerable in 2012. The GOP, however, psychologically _could not_ take advantage of it, because culturally their dominant core are members of the same cultural elite, because the big business lobby is pretty much in favor of most of what Obama is doing and against the country class, and because they just don't understand the problem. It's outside their worldview.

So they ran Romney, who may be a decent guy for all I know, but is a financier, has a long record as a social liberal, and crafted Romneycare and so was powerless to take on Obamacare. He ran on an 'economic liberty' agenda that is just the old GOP business agenda renamed, and refused to talk about issues like national defense, judges, social issues, national sovereignty, etc. Somehow he had the idea that 'entitlement reform' was a political winner with the base.

Net result: Obama wins by default.

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HC68

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.